Great Western Railway (Tasmania)

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The Tasmanian Great Western Railway was a proposed railway that was never built to connect Hobart with the west coast during the 1890s mining boom in Tasmania. It would have passed through a route somewhat similar to the current Lyell Highway through the northern edge of South West Tasmania into the west coast

It was a proposal by business interests to utilise Hobart on the east coast, rather than the west or north west coast ports.[1] However the proposal was not a simple idea that failed - but a play between rival companies and regions [2]

In 1896 two rival companies lobbied for permission to build railways from Hobart to the west. The Great Western Railway Company, promoted in Melbourne, planned an electric railway from Glenora to Mount Lyell and Zeehan.... The theoretical plans of the rival syndicates passed as genuine currency in Hobart, where the Mercury printed a huge red and black map


The Great Western railway proposal was part of a complex play of political and business interests between the three regions of power in Tasmania that were relatively balanced in the 1890s through to the time of the First World War - after which the distribution was never balanced again.[3] The solution of the North West Route to Burnie and the rise of the Mount Lyell Mining and Railway Company and Emu Bay Railway routes saw the Great Western Railway proposals vanish in time.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Blainey, Geoffrey (2000). The Peaks of Lyell (6th ed.). Hobart: St. David's Park Publishing. ISBN 0-7246-2265-9. 
  2. ^ For a full appreciation of the players and the details of the 'wars' - Geoffrey Blainey's The Peaks of Lyell - chapter 13 'The Railway War pp112-133 and Glyn Roberts Metal Mining... - chapter 19 pp 363-380 Access to the West Coast give different and useful approaches to the events
  3. ^ Geoffrey Blainey's 'Population Movements in Tasmania, 1870-1901', in Tasmanian Historical Research Association, Papers and Proceedings, vol.3, 1954, pp.62-70. 'The Rise and Decline of the West Coast', in Tasmanian Historical Research Association. Papers and Proceedings, vol.4, 1955, pp.66-74. both articles give an early view on the Tasmanian regional rivalries and the resolution through the downfall of the west Coast influence